rosefox: Me in men's evening dress. (crossdressing)
Rose Fox ([personal profile] rosefox) wrote2016-06-21 01:39 pm

"You can be a new man"

Someone just wrote to me asking for advice on getting started building a dapper wardrobe, and of course I have LOTS of advice. I figured I'd share it here too.

Style inspiration: I love looking at portraits of the original dapper dandy, Beau Brummel, and his fellow Regency-era men. A quick Google search for "Regency men's clothing" will give you a ton. If you like more flamboyant styles, researching the fops and fribbles who predated him is also a lot of fun. In the modern era, try looking up drag kings, who have fabulous style and do interesting things with the basics of menswear. Or flip through the catalogs/websites of high-end butchwear companies even though you can't afford anything they make.

Buying clothes: EBAY EBAY EBAY. I'm a boy's size 16/18 in shirts, and it turns out there are a lot of teen boys who wear very nice shirts once and outgrow them, and then their parents put them (the shirts, not the boys) up on Ebay for pennies. The best thing is that many of them are posted with measurements as well as size numbers. Buy a few different brands and see what fits. You can also go to a big department store and try on things from the boys section. Men's trousers are more difficult to find unless you're skinny all the way down; I have a small waist and a big butt, and I do pretty well with Old Navy men's jeans as long as they're a tapered fit. Don't shy away from fitted clothing. Baggy pants won't hide your shape--they'll just make you look shlumpy, and you won't feel good about yourself, which hampers the self-confident attitude that's the true hallmark of the dandy.

In one word, I teach you the secret of success in dapperness: ACCESSORIZE.

The most obvious accessory is the tie. If you have a short torso, regular men's ties will be much too long for you, so get pre-tied clip-on or zip-up ties for kids (very easy to find on Ebay in a wide range of colors and sizes) or wear bow ties. You can also try bolo or string ties if that's your style. I like wearing a vertical pin on my shirt placket to give the suggestion of a tie without the formality of one.

My favorite way to dress up a button-up shirt is with a vest; it can be hard to find one that fits if your chest is big, but a little subtle tailoring can turn a blocky square vest into something smooth and glorious that also hides your waistline a bit. Sweater vests stretch to accommodate your shape and are great for autumn. In the winter, wear suit jackets. In the summer, wear a white cotton undershirt (I like Hanes men's small) to soak up sweat and keep your thin cotton shirt from wrinkling or going transparent. Use shirt stays--they're like suspenders that attach your shirt to the top of your socks and keep it tucked in and smooth. A neatly folded pocket square or a pair of suspenders can also do wonders, though I find that I have to wear a binder (gc2b is an excellent brand) if I want suspenders to lie properly on my chest.

And hats! Hats are great! My preferred hat shop is Goorin Bros. even though they inexplicably started dividing their collection into "men's" and "women's"; ignore those artificial distinctions and get yourself a fedora (we can reclaim them from the whiny bros) or a flat cap. If you have long hair, either tuck it up into a hat or wear your hair in whatever long style is associated with men of your race/culture (single ponytail, single long braid, tidy dreads, loose and all one length--there are a surprising number of options even if you don't think of there being long hair styles for men), with or without a hat.

Get shoes from Tomboy Toes, or from Payless, which has some decent men's shoes in very small sizes for very cheap. My first pair of shiny captoes in size 5.5 came from Payless and cost something like $20. I still have them and love them, even though the soles have cracked.

Pay attention to detail. If you're wearing a jacket, shoot your cuffs. Shine your shoes. Wear silk socks and boxer briefs, even if no one but you will know. Iron your handkerchief. Wear earrings that match your cuff links. Wear men's shirts rather than masculine-styled women's shirts so that the buttons are on the correct side, and never ever wear a men's shirt with a women's jacket or vice versa. The little touches that pull an outfit together are really what give the impression of dandyness.
starshadow: (Default)

[personal profile] starshadow 2016-06-21 07:42 pm (UTC)(link)
I love this post!!
sorcyress: Drawing of me as a pirate, standing in front of the Boston Citgo sign (Default)

[personal profile] sorcyress 2016-06-22 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you thank you thank you.

I've been pulling together my weird, occasionally dandy, genderfucky style for a few years now, based heavily on things Racheline has said here and there, but I am always thrilled to hear more advice (especially from people built along similar lines to me).

You are awesome!

~Sor

People inspired by Beau Brummel

[personal profile] sorcharei 2016-06-22 10:58 pm (UTC)(link)
If you admire Beau Brummel, you might want to track down photos of Matt Preston. He's a food writer and Masterchef Australia judge who has a very distinct personal style he says is based on his admiration for the original dandy. He's definitely a straight cis-male, but I love looking at a person who has forged such a powerful personal style against everything our culture says about how men have to dress in order to be taken seriously.

The first photo I ever saw of him, he was wearing pink cowboy boots, white jeans, a pink coat cut like a Regency jacket, and embroidered white waistcoat, and a pink ascot. Unlike Beau Brummel, he is all about colors, but he is also not afraid to dress in a way that most straight cis-men in public positions won't go near. Plaid suits, ascots instead of ties, waistcoats, jackets cut in 19th century style, a decided affection for colors usually identified with "female" in modern western coding (pinks, bright purples, mauves, magenta, etc.), high heels. I'm oretty sure I saw him wearing what could only have been Hessian boots (like they wore in the Regency), although I cannot find a photo of that.

He even wrote a book called "Cravat-a-licious".
aamcnamara: (Default)

[personal profile] aamcnamara 2016-06-23 11:45 pm (UTC)(link)
eBay for boys' button-down shirts is...an amazing idea. Thank you.

[identity profile] thekumquat.livejournal.com 2016-06-22 10:12 am (UTC)(link)
Could you define placket, please? From context it sounds like yet another clothing word that has moved around the body when crossing the Atlantic.

To me, the placket is the bit of fabric around a zip, usually in the front of a pair of trousers or at the side of a skirt, and a pin there doesnt sound good!
phi: (Default)

[personal profile] phi 2016-06-22 02:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Cool. Thank you!

[identity profile] silkensteel.livejournal.com 2016-06-22 05:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Farm life doesn't give me much time to do much dress-up, but "matching earrings and cufflinks" just filled me with joy. Now I want more reasons to Dress Up!

[identity profile] a4yroldfaerie.livejournal.com 2016-06-25 12:18 pm (UTC)(link)
What does "shoot your cuffs" mean?

(Great post!)